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TV and internet ‘more essential than holidays’

Brits put technology high up on priority list

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Technology products and services such as digital TV, broadband and mobile phones are third only to household groceries and toiletries among a list of items that people prioritise in a downturn.

The research from phone, TV and broadband watchdog Ofcom, suggests people in the UK would rather do without meals out or holidays than give up their mobile phone, broadband or pay TV deal.

Broadband is most valued technology

When asked which items they were most likely to cut spending on during a recession, 47% of people surveyed said they’d choose to cut back on going out for dinner, 41% on DIY and 41% on holidays. Between 20% and 32% would choose to cut back on the other items in the list, including newspapers and magazines; clothing or footware; music, books and DVDs; and gym and sports.

This compares with only a fifth (19%) who would cut back on mobile phone spend, 16% on TV subscriptions, and just 10% on their broadband services or home phone calls.

Which? broadband expert Ceri Stanaway says: ‘In a time when we’re all watching the pennies and looking for more cost-effective ways to pass the time, it’s perhaps not surprising that broadband remains a priority thanks to the wealth of content, entertainment and services you can only access if you have an internet connection.

‘Plus, we’ve found that online retailers can generally offer you greater savings than the high street, so if you need to do a bit of shopping a good broadband connection could even save you money in the long run.’  

Technology costs are key

The report found that while people seem less willing to cut back on the level of technology used, people are looking for value for money and ways to get the same services for lower cost.

Nearly half of people asked said that they are now more likely to bundle phone, internet and TV services together than they were twelve months ago.

And around a quarter of consumers are more prepared to take the advice that Which? has always given and shop around for an improved mobile phone service and broadband provider than they were a year ago.

If you’re looking to find a new broadband service or phone, internet and TV bundle that offers great value for money along with top notch service, and to see how big names like BT and Virgin Media compare to Which? Best Buys, use the Which? broadband review or the Which? guide to phone, internet and TV packages to help you choose.

Or if you fancy a new mobile phone without paying through the nose, the Which? mobile phones review puts basic mobiles and high tech handsets through hard-core lab testing to bring you Best Buy handsets to suit every budget.

TV on demand

Ofcom’s research also reveals that TV viewers are taking even more control over their TV schedules, choosing how, when and where to watch programmes. Catch-up services on TV, such as Virgin TV on demand, and online TV services like the BBC iPlayer have contributed to this new way of watching TV. 

You can have even more control over your own TV schedule by buying a personal video recorder (PVR) that lets you pause and rewind live TV as well as record all of your favourite TV shows onto hard disk and watch them back at your leisure. Ofcom’s research found that by the end of March this year more than a quarter of UK homes (27%) had a PVR – an increase of 29% since September 2008.

Find out which PVRs do best in Which? tests in the Which? review of PVRs.

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